By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 21, 2011 - 18 Comments
Chris Cobb looks at one of the implications of the government’s crime legislation.
“It is badly drafted legislation,” says University of Toronto criminologist Anthony Doob. “The government has a role to make good laws and this isn’t good law. We should penalize according to the harm caused and I don’t think that the 18-year-old who gives his 17-year-old friend marijuana deserves a penitentiary sentence. How did kids sharing marijuana suddenly become organized criminals?”
To the list of those with concerns about the government’s direction, you can the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, who see a looming crisis in the justice system.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 18, 2011 at 2:08 PM - 24 Comments
Rob Nicholson, July 2008. “We don’t govern by statistics in our government.”
Rob Nicholson, July 2009. “We don’t govern on the latest statistics.”
Stockwell Day, August 2010. “We’re very concerned . . . about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening. People simply aren’t reporting the same way they used to.”
Rob Nicholson, September 2011. “We’re not governing on the basis of the latest statistics.”
Jeff Watson, this morning in the House. “Madam Speaker, with our tackling violent crime act, measures to strengthen parole, pardons and sentences for violent criminals, funds for more frontline police and to prevent at-risk youth from a life of crime, only this Conservative government is making our communities and streets safer. According to StatsCan’s just released 2010 crime severity index, Windsor–Essex is the safest region in Canada. Among the safest Canadian communities over 10,000 people, the town of LaSalle ranks 2nd, Tecumseh 4th, Kingsville 7th, Lakeshore 8th, Essex 12th. Windsor is the 7th safest big city of 32, and topping the list of 238 safest towns and cities is my hometown, Amherstburg. Thanks to our dedicated police, strong community involvement, our government’s investments to prevent crime and tough laws to crack down on criminals, Windsor–Essex is the safest region in Canada.”
Local officials in Windsor and Essex County have cited a number of possible explanations for the recent success there, including shifting demographics, community assistance, police involvement in schools and “luck.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:30 PM - 8 Comments
Stephen Harper, June 6, 2008. It’s one thing that they, the criminals do not get it, but if you don’t mind me saying, another part of the problem for the past generation has been those, also a small part of our society, who are not criminals themselves, but who are always making excuses for them, and when they aren’t making excuses, they are denying that crime is even a problem: the ivory tower experts, the tut-tutting commentators, the out-of-touch politicians. “Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong,” they say. “Crime is not really a problem.” I don’t know how you say that.
Rob Nicholson, Sept. 20, 2011. We’re not governing on the basis of the latest statistics. We’re governing on the basis of what’s right to better protect victims and law-abiding Canadians … Canadians want and deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.
Kevin Sorenson, yesterday. At the committee the Minister of Public Safety had to explain to the NDP that there is a difference between feeling safe and actually being safe. It is irresponsible to continue pouring tax dollars into the long gun registry because it feels like the right thing to do or the safe thing to do. The NDP proved again that it is unfit to lead.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 8:25 AM - 11 Comments
Yesterday, during committee hearings, a Conservative MP termed the director of the John Howard Society an “advocate for criminals.”
Here is the Harper government providing a total of $604,217 to John Howard Society projects in Belleville, Brandon and Hamilton in 2006. Here is the Harper government providing a total of $200,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto in 2008 so that it could “work with the John Howard Society to provide short-term supportive housing for participants involved in the Toronto Drug Treatment Court program.” Here is the Harper government providing a total of $507,610 to John Howard Society projects in Winnipeg and Ottawa in 2009. Here is the Harper government providing a total of $550,031 to John Howard Society projects in Alberta and New Brunswick in 2010.
Earlier this month, a Conservative MP criticized the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
Here is the Harper government providing the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba with $300,000 to help fight gangs in 2007. Here is the Harper government providing the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society with $4,490 through the Victims Fund as part of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week in 2008.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 44 Comments
Alex Himelfarb considers the state of crime policy in this country.
In her 1997 study of public opinion and perceptions of crime in the U.S., Katherine Beckett showed that fear of crime did not lead public policy, it was the other way around. Tough on criminals policy creates the perception that rising crime is a serious problem, that we ought to be afraid. And the inevitably escalating government action simply continues to feed those fears. Breaking the cycle is very hard. California’s current governor tried to pass bizarre legislation tying prison spending to education spending as something of an admission that he was helpless to do anything about the shift of scarce resources from health, education and welfare to prisons. His frustration is understandable – California spends 45% more on prisons than on higher education. This is not a path we want to follow.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 1:18 PM - 36 Comments
Alex Himelfarb considers the revolution in crime policy that is about to pass the House.
Our greater openness to these “tough on criminals” policies and the reluctance of the opposition to take them on may reflect a more profound debasing of our politics, what the American critic Benjamin DeMott has called “Junk Politics”. In his articles and books, DeMott is not calling for more civility, politer politics; he doesn’t mind a good fight, it seems. His concern with contemporary politics is bigger than that; it resides in its refusal to lead citizens to higher ground, to challenge us, to inspire us to find our better selves. Instead, he says, it panders to our worst sentiments. personalises everything, derides experts and evidence, tells us that we are great as we are, that we have every right to feel morally superior. It divides the world up into good and bad, black and white. Nuance kills. This world, to paraphrase sociologist Orrin Klapp, is destructively divided up into heroes – “hard-working, law-abiding tax payers” ; villains – criminals, terrorists and would-be terrorists; and fools – all the elites and so-called experts who are soft on crime and soft on terror. This view gives not much space to idea of redemption or, for that matter, to compassion and brooks no debate on what the evidence might tell us or about the costs of punishment.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM - 25 Comments
The Hill Times discovers that Rob Nicholson was vice-chair of a Parliamentary committee that, in 1988, advised against pursuing mandatory minimums. Mr. Nicholson’s director of communications attempts to explain the distance between that report and the Justice Minister’s current rhetoric.
Geneviève Breton, Mr. Nicholson’s (Niagara Falls, Ont.) director of communications, said in an email to The Hill Times that the justice system and the drug world are different than they were 22 years ago, and therefore the government’s response has also changed …”Parliament is expected to draft and enact laws that clearly articulate the legislators’ intent, which is reflective of the values of the citizens who elected them. It is the role of the legislator to give guidance to the judiciary on maximum penalties, as well as on minimum penalties. For certain offences, our Government firmly believes that a minimum period of incarceration is justified,” Ms. Breton stated.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:52 PM - 8 Comments
Neil Boyd makes like one of those meddlesome academics and once more insists on thinking things through.
Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has complained that a fall election will kill critical anti-crime legislation currently before the House of Commons and the Senate, bills that would eliminate the faint hope clause and impose mandatory minimums for drug crime.
Never mind that it was the Conservatives themselves who killed similar anti-crime legislation before calling the last election. What’s more stunning is that Mr. Van Loan has the nerve to describe these bills as critical to crime reduction and crime prevention…
These election bills should die on the order paper. The Tories aren’t tough on crime; they’re stupid on crime. What’s disappointing is that Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberals have been so unwilling to challenge the morally and scientifically bankrupt agenda that the Tories have been advancing. There’s still time, however, and it’s quite likely that Canadians would listen
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 25, 2009 at 12:24 PM - 63 Comments
Despite plenty of evidence their efforts will be futile, the people who study such things continue to insist on analyzing the actual usefulness of the Harper government’s crime policy.
Decades of evidence on prison policy is being trumped by ideology and populist pandering, says an independent report on the Conservative government’s corrections road map. “Raw wedge politics — in place of studied evidence — is the new face of public policy for Canada,” Graham Stewart, one of the study’s co-authors, said at a news conference Thursday.
… Their analysis was immediately dismissed by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, who made a point of referring repeatedly to Mr. Jackson as “the professor.” “The professor has a different philosophy than us,” Mr. Van Loan told CBC Newsworld. “We think the protection of society has to come first.”
… Ian Brodie, Harper’s former chief of staff, told a McGill University symposium last March that criticism of the tough-on-crime policy by sociologists, lawyers and criminologists actually bolsters the Conservative case — because they are held in lower regard than politicians.